When you’re making a cake it’s important that you have all the ingredients the recipe calls for, right? Eggs, milk, and butter are in the refrigerator, and dry ingredients, such as flour and cacao, are in the pantry or some of the kitchen drawers. Mixing ingredients that have different temperatures can lead to disaster.
Baking demands patience and practice. There are some things that no one can teach you, but the experience. But there are also some basic rules that you should obey. One of them is that all the ingredients should have room temperature when you’re baking cake. You can’t just take them out of the fridge and proceed. Many recipes strictly note that eggs and dairy products should be at room temperature and that’s not made up for no reason.
If you use cold eggs and cold dairy products your recipe won’t be as you expect it. It could easily lack taste, and there are scientific reasons for that.
Why is it important that ingredients have room temperature?
When you’re baking a cake, you’re expecting it to be light texture, soft and fluffy. When you mix room temperature ingredients – eggs, milk, butter, cream – they create an emulsion that traps air. Later, when the mixture is in the oven, trapped air slowly expands, creating the texture of cake we all know and enjoy.
Room temperature ingredients also tend to bond together more easily and more efficiently. You’ll get a mixture that has an even texture, without clumps. Cold ingredients do not incorporate well, and they could also not incorporate at all – leaving your cake flat, dense, clumpy, or chunky.
What ingredient should never be used cold?
Butter, dairy products and eggs.
Butter is an ingredient that should never be used cold, except if the recipe strictly calls for cold butter. Usually, recipes call for creaming butter and sugar. That means simply beating them up until you get a soft, creamy, white mixture. In order to achieve the creaminess of butter and sugar, butter must be soft – and room temperature. Soft butter will incorporate sugar crystals, creating miniature air gaps between. Those air gaps will give fluffiness and light texture to the baked cake. The same goes for buttercream frostings!
The situation with eggs is similar. Eggs are full of protein and when you’re whisking them proteins trap air bubbles. When cake bakes, air bubbles are released and they create a soft and light texture to your cake. Also, eggs are easier to whisk when they are at room temperature. Adding cold eggs could ruin all other ingredients that have room temperature. Fats (butter) could harden and leave a clumpy mess.
How to bring butter to room temperature?
Simply take it out of the refrigerator at least two hours before you begin with your recipe. If you’re in a hurry you can leave it near the hot oven (not in the oven, just on a plate near it) and the heat will speed up the process.
Tip: Don’t heat butter in the microwave. If your butter melts and becomes runny it could ruin the entire recipe!
How to bring eggs to room temperature?
Bringing eggs to room temperature is a piece of cake. You have two options – take them out of the fridge a few hours (2-3 hours) before beginning with your recipe. Another option is to put them in a bowl filled with warm water for 15-20 minutes, to warm up. Do not use hot water or your eggs could end up cooked!